Friday, December 31, 2010


Can't think of a better way to start the New Year than with Oswald Chambers:

"The God of Israel will be your reward." Isaiah 52:12

Security from Yesterday. "God requireth that which is past." At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays. Our present enjoyment of God's grace is apt to be checked by the memory of yesterday's sins and blunders. But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them in order to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future. God reminds us of the past lest we get into a shallow security in the present.

Security for To-morrow. "For the Lord will go before you." This is a gracious revelation, that God will garrison where we have failed to. He will watch lest things trip us up again into like failure, as they assuredly would do if He were not our rereward. God's hand reaches back to the past and makes a clearing-house for conscience.

Security for To-day. "For ye shall not go out with haste." As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.

Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him. Oswald Chambers

We can look to our future with hope no matter what lies ahead when we are looking to the God of Hope! I wish you a very Happy New Year filled with hope in Him who set all the planets in motion and keeps it all going, who knows and cares about our every thought, who gives us life and breath.....

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Photo credit:  Mike Robinson taken near Anchorage, Alaska

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Where did our love go?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Elaine and I were driving around the day after Christmas doing errands and we decided to stop at the mall to walk around, maybe check out a few sales. Our final destination was Border's but there was no place to sit so we went out for some air and sat in the courtyard. She looked at me and said, "These are our future leaders." I said, "Looking around at who I see, that is a pretty scary statement." As we headed back into the Mall I noticed she quickened her pace drastically. Now when you go anywhere with my best friend you have to be ready for anything. She can spot a premeditated crime a mile away. She always has her ears and eyes open for anyone that needs help. She has driven miles to return wallets on several occasions. Old people and kids are attracted to her. I think because they sense she will look out for them. By the time she reached the door she was almost running. It only took a couple seconds for me to realize she was on a mission, I know her.

She quickly approached a teenaged girl and stopped her. The girl wheeled around, a bit surprised. "Your money is falling out of your back pocket and some guy was planning to take it," she said. The girl was with her Dad, who was very thankful for her act of kindness. As we walked off we could hear him say to his daughter....."I told you....." We heard her tell her Dad that she had forgotten she put it there.

What happened was, my friend overheard a punk outside where we were sitting say, "Hey, watch this, I am going to be $20.00 dollars richer in a few minutes." There were some choice expletives thrown in. My friend's antenna went up and that is what tipped her off to follow him. She said God worked it out just right because the guy was ahead of her but two people got in his way and she was able to pass him to reach the girl in time.

In my Mom's day behavior like this would never have been tolerated. Young women especially were treated with utmost respect and looked out for. I know there were exceptions to that, but as she says, not very many.

What do you think? Has behavior generally gotten worse in your opinion? I have this discussion all the time and many think that there are simply more people now and more cameras to record bad behavior, but I disagree. The Bible says things will get worse before they get better. Despite that, I am thankful there are still many good and helpful people who will step up and do the right thing.

Speaking of the last days....

For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.....and not to let believers off the hook, the verse continues: holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
1 Timothy 3:2-5

Are we there yet?

On a more positive note my dear Mom and Dad are celebrating 60 years of marriage today. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

images from google

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Walking in His light.......

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

I awoke in a cycle of worry this morning. Some days start like that. It is the same worry loop my mind runs through, has been running through for several years now. It is familiar to me like an old song. In the days of phonographs and records sometimes there used to be a skip in a record and you would have to go over and reset it back into the right groove or else start it all over again from the beginning. I realise that I have to explain that, and it is funny to me having grown up before the era of CD's.

Sometimes worry is like that old song, that groove in the record. But I am tired of that song. I made a decision this morning to reset the record. I got up and got dressed in the dark and went out and walked. I put my IPOD on "Praise" and as I listened to songs like...."All of Creation" by Mercy Me, and watched the sky fill up with glorious color, the color of the Master Artist. By the second time around the park, I noticed something start to happen. My spirits were lifting. I was not so worried anymore.

They were being choked out by the praise!

When you fill up your mind with praise to Him, it tends to crowd everything else out. My circumstances didn't change, the worries are still there, but God is covering them now with promises from His word. Instead of listening the recording in my head, I listen to what God says. He says: "Don't worry!" He said it often because He knew we would be a recurring problem for us.

I thought another thing this morning too. During Christmas, I tend to put worry and stress on hold and just focus on Christmas and the wonder and joy of it all. Christmas is for me a timeout from all that, a chance to focus on something else. When it is over I tend to go back to my worrisome ways. But why can't I adapt a Christmas attitude all year long? Well, God says I can!

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:27

Jesus had to walk a lonely road to Calvary for us. Sometimes its the small calvaries in life that get to us. But when we look to Him and keep walking, He will reward us with His hope, His joy, His victory.

If the world is threatening to choke out the Word in your life today, don't despair. He will come, He will see you through, one step at a time!

photo from my iphone

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas behind, Christ Ahead.......

As I begin to pack away the decorations, I am aware of the deeper reality that lies all around me. It was in the service yesterday, as we lifted our hands in worship. The power that cuts through time and eternity. The reality that the Christ whose birth we just celebrated is very much alive. That is the true nature of Christmas. The other is just "stuff." I was aware of it as I heard the reality of an answered prayer just yesterday as I talked with my Mom on the phone. That is what we can celebrate......and keep celebrating, all year long. Immanuel, God is with us.

This living Christ, who was born, lived a perfect life, died a perfect death, and rose from the grave so that we might find redemption, this living Christ is working in my life. He is the reason we can look to the coming year with joy and hope. No matter what the economy does, no matter what the government does, no matter what happens in the life of each and every one who confesses Him as Lord.

Halleluiah. I can put everything away, knowing it is anything but over.

What do you put your trust in today? I pray that it is Him.

"Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit on Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us, He did not intend to." C.S. Lewis

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Mark 8:29 

I am continuing the count today with a vast community of others who know the reality of Him who lives within us today and always......this list of thankfulness for the blessings of this Christmas: Unexpected answer to prayer when we needed it most, the kindness and hospitality of good neighbors and friends, a little excited voice on the phone telling me all about her Christmas, fellowship of other believers, joy despite having to work part of Christmas, freedom to worship in His house, good food, my family who though we are apart, we know we are knit together in His love which keeps us close, His Holy Spirit who helps us and guides us in His truth, being able to bless others with what He has given me..........#574-584

holy experience

Friday, December 24, 2010

Let Heaven and Nature Sing.....

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth. Psalm 19:1-6
Many times I pray on the way to work, but this morning was different. I started out praying but as I prayed I felt like I had to lift my voice, so I did. I cried out for my family, my friends, and then I just lifted my voice in praise to the Lord.......Sometimes a quiet prayer just doesn't get it. I had my own min-revival there in the car. I thought of all that this season means and all that God has done for me and my spirit collided with His Spirit in one voice......How many times do we raise our voices for other things, a shout-out at a sporting event, a "whoop-whoop" for everything under the sun these days. God deserves it more than anyone.
Our very creation does its own version of a shout-out if we open our eyes long enough to see it.
The animals cry and sing just for the joy of singing.......they sing their own praises to the Lord, for they know who created them!

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth recieve her King,
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing!

Isaac Watts, 1719

A very Merry Christmas to all.....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Just Believe......

You have everything you need, if you just believe...... "Believe," from Polar Express

I have never watched Polar Express all the way through until last night. I stayed up longer than I should have just to see the little boy find the bell. I think I watched it partly for my Dad since he has confessed that this is his favorite movie. Even at 82, when he watches it you can see the glimmer of childhood innocence in his eyes. He told me last time I was home that, "I am that boy in the movie......" Dad's was a childhood of lost and broken dreams with both parents alcoholics. He says that every Christmas started out great and ended up with both parents in a screaming match. He says every year he hoped that it would be different but it never was.

This leaves a permanent scar on a soul; and to his credit, he made our childhood everything his wasn't. Our Christmases were filled with magic and promise. He made sure that we had all the security he never had. There were two promises he made to us and to himself. There would never be shouting in our home and there wasn't, and that we would never see him drunk and we never did.  I have wonderful memories of my childhood because of choices my Dad and my Mom made. 

We can choose to build and repair what is broken or leave it behind us and create a new mess. We can also create something good and watch beauty emerge from a pile of rubble. We can also choose to open the windows and let the bad out, and keep it out. God never expects us to hitch our wagon  to someone else's negativity and darkness and go over the cliff with them.

As I watched last night, through my Dad's eyes, I imagined some things about how it must have been for him when Grandpa took off when he was five. How scared he probably was. I was remembering how good it was for me as a child. I thought of an ocean of children out there waiting for the Polar Express to show up for them, the adults who were still waiting. As I watched, I rooted for that little boy.

There is something in a child that God loves. Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3

God longs to take the lost little child within you into His arms and give you back everything that was stolen from you as a child. He longs to restore you......Even those of us with happy childhoods long to go back to that time when things seemed so simple, when belief was easy and everything was within the realm of possibility.

My Dad's Mom died young as a result of her drinking, but my Grandfather got married again and quit drinking. He was a part of my life when I was a kid. My Dad had to make another choice to let him back into his life. He saw the benefit of that, and we had some good times together. Sometimes burned bridges can be rebuilt to a certain extent. My Dad and he were never really close, but Grandpa in his later years was a kind man, and he loved us. He took my brother and I to the Elks Lodge every Christmas. I remember the one year I really thought I heard Santa's Sleigh outside the building.

There is a whole army of people out there that have been brave enough to make something good out of the wreckage of their past. To create wonder for someone else, and magic out of mayhem. To believe that Love is the most powerful thing of all....I was remembering as I slipped into slumber last night. Remembering my own time of magic, when I used to sit by the Christmas tree at night all by myself, lost in wonder.
In the remembering, I felt a tear make its way down the corner of my eye.......
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The God of all comfort.....

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3,4

It seems everywhere I turn in my own small circle there is need of comfort, so today I am sending this prayer out, and up. I pray that it may be a healing balm for the heart. I pray that it lands softly and rests deep in the soul that is unsettled, that it rests lightly the way this bird rests on this bough, with faith that it may hold him. I pray it settles with feathers of hope that come unexpectedly during the quiet of the day. I pray it brings comfort in the night, when life screams loudest and thoughts are most irrational. 

I pray it comes and gives the calm assurance and peace that can only come from God, and I pray that in all those places where the world and life has left you empty and feeling robbed of joy, that you may feel the fullness of our great God, who is ever-near to the broken-hearted. I pray those who are trying to battle the darkness on their own have the courage to hand it over to Him who has the power to shatter it with His brilliant and marvelous Light.

 I pray that those brave souls who are staying positive in the midst of all the negativity they see around them, be rewarded today with joy overflowing. Be with them Lord, and lift them up with eagles wings before their strength gives out, and provide them with loving arms to surround them when they need them most.

And always remember......

He sees every tear that is shed in private moments when no one is looking and every thought that threatens to bring despair.

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you." Isaiah 54:10

Monday, December 20, 2010

He was born so we could be.....

"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

The process of conversion is the greatest miracle of our times. A dramatically changed life, as Augustine knew, is the most powerful testimony there external change, something supernatural we can explain in no other way but through God alone. Jesus called it being "born again."

"But you, O Lord, used the changes lives of other men and women like a mirror to keep turning me around to face myself. You set me in front of my own face so that I might see how deformed, how crooked and sordid and stained and ulcerous I was. Horrified, I turned and tried to run from myself--only to find that you were there, too, thrusting me in front of myself. You wanted me to discover my iniquity and hate it, because it bound me and kept me from going with you." Augustine, Confessions 8

If you want to read about a powerful conversion, read the Confessions of Augustine; read the Apostle Paul's from the book of Acts. Both dramatic and full of passion, but no less so than every one of us who has come to that moment when they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they must go through that door, and there is no stopping it. In my own Baptist tradition, we made a public confession of faith through a walk down the aisle in the church, also known as the "altar call", and then again in Baptism. It is powerful, it is heartrending,  and the nearest to Heaven that we will ever be this side of it. It is the most miraculous and most important moment in one's life. The Bible says that angels in Heaven rejoice over one sinner who repents, either in front of a church or in their own car going down the road!

I have noticed a curious thing happening in several churches of my own evangelical tradition in recent years. When it comes to that time of decision there is curiously no more walk down the aisle. For me this has always been the most important moment in the church service. You remember your own walk, and you want to encourage others so you stand and clap for them as the praise team or choir gets back up to close the service. And when you see one of your own make that can't even describe it. Goosebumps all the way.

Some churches have changed this to a quiet moment of all heads bowed and a raising of hands for those who wish to "make a decision" to follow Christ. Is this something we are now ashamed of that we need to do without others eyes upon us? When did it become something we need to be embarassed about? Everyone Jesus called was called publicly. Should it still be the same today? Can you imagine Peter asking everyone to bow their head and raise their hands without anyone else looking? Why are certain churches treating this great miracle of conversion, this most joyous and radical thing into something to be done in secret?

Jesus was born, lived and died a terrible death very publicly so that we could be born again into new life. Shouldn't we be just as open about confessing Him? I don't want to step on any toes here, and I do want to be sensitive, but I welcome your thoughts.

What are some of your own church traditions/teachings on this?

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. Matthew 10:32

Counting thanks in my heart today......time is pressing!

holy experience

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fellowship with the King

 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant."

What a great time of prayer I had this morning........a time of precious communion with the Lord in the quiet hours. I got to watch His dawn once more, filling the sky with color. As I opened the door to see the sunrise, I scared a couple of doves that had settled on the rooftop next door, their whistling wings rustling as they took off. 

He has given me 51 years on this earth and I am grateful, more and more, for every minute He gives me. Each one is an offering to Him. Sometimes I confess the offering is frightfully meager but He accepts them anyway. He has given me a great gift, appreciation for each moment, because each one holds an opportunity to tell others what great things He wants to do for us, and what He has already done....

Thank you Father, for your precious Spirit who lives within me and every one who confesses You as Lord. I don't deserve such a gift! You didn't think it was beneath You to come and live in this inadequate imperfect bundle of flesh that is me!

Makes me identify a bit with Mary this morning....

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." 1 John 3:1

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Putting myself in timeout

It never fails....just when I start to get a bit sanctimonious and pat myself on the back about something, God reminds me that I need to practice what I preach. I was thinking I was doing a very good job of just relaxing and enjoying the season when everything just snuck up on me. I am staring at four computer screens at work today and realized that unless I get stuff in the mail TODAY, it will not get done....

My wonderful friend, being the thoughtful angel she is, finished icing all the sugar cookies yesterday......they were really works of art, they all looked like little stained glass windows; I wish I had taken a picture! She really surprised me and everyone is enjoying them today at work.....

So right after I mail that box I plan on finding a quiet place to reflect on all the things I am so very grateful for this year, and of course the real reason for this season.....I think I need a little timeout tonight in my prayer shed!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7

Friday, December 17, 2010

Waiting the right way......

"Be as calm in your waiting; let your hearts be strong: because the coming of the Lord is near." James 5:8

"The blessedness of waiting is lost on those who cannot wait, and the fulfillment of promise is never theirs. They want quick answers to the deepest questions of life and miss the value of those times of anxious waiting, seeking with patient uncertainties until the answers come. They lose the moment when the answers are revealed in dazzling clarity." Detrich Bonhoeffer

How does God want us to wait? The Bible gives us many examples of "right" waiting....

"When I was waiting quietly for the Lord, His heart was turned to me, and He gave ear to my cry." Psalms 40:1

"And so, as the result of patient waiting, our forefather obtained what God had promised." Hebrews 6:15

"I am waiting for the Lord, my soul is waiting for Him, and my hope is in His Word." Psalms 130:5

So there is quiet waiting, patient waiting, and hopeful waiting.....Let's take a look at how God waits:

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his word, as he seems to some, but he is waiting in mercy for you, not desiring the destruction of any, but that all may be turned from their evil ways." 2 Peter 3:9

 "See, I am waiting at the door and giving the sign; if my voice comes to any man's ears and he makes the door open, I will come in to him, and will take food with him and he with ME." Revelation 3:20
He is waiting in mercy and He is also actively waiting
"Now may the God who gives comfort and strength in waiting make you of the same mind with one another in harmony with Christ Jesus…" Romans 15:5
And here we see that He gives comfort and strength while we are waiting!
It is hard to wait. I don't think anyone is really comfortable with it, but it is much better to wait when you have hope in the waiting. Sometimes waiting is absolutely excruciating and stressful. But God wants to teach us to wait calmly and with anticipation to see what He will do in the waiting....that's when we get true value out of the waiting. I think what most people don't like is the fact that we feel that our time is wasted while we are waiting, but the miracle can never happen without a waiting period.

I think my favorite part of the Christmas season is the anticipation of it, the preparation, the waiting. I made a decision a few years ago to minimize what I do so that I can really enjoy the season; to do only those things that bring me or others joy and let the rest slide. I have truly enjoyed every Christmas since then. I sometimes feel myself getting pulled into the undertow, but that is when I stop, pray, get somewhere quiet and readjust my thinking, and BREATHE.  It is wonderful. I can't wait to go to Barnes and Noble this weekend, one of my favorite things to do anytime, but especially right before Christmas. I will grab my coffee and a table, get a stack of magazines or books, and watch the crowd rush by.....

May you have peace and courage in whatever you are waiting for this season. Keep your lamp lit and a light in the window for His coming and may your oil not run dry!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Shoemaker's Dream

This story was taken from a poem by Edwin Markham that I have from a Christmas CD I play every year around this time, I thought I would share it with you today: The Shoemaker's Dream

One of the most beautiful of all Christmas stories was told by the American poet, Edwin Markham, about a cobbler, a godly man who made shoes in the old days. One night the cobbler dreamed that the next day Jesus was coming to visit him. The dream seemed so real that he got up very early the next morning and hurried to the woods, where he gathered green boughs to decorate his shop for the arrival of so great a Guest.

He waited all morning, but to his disappointment, his shop remained quiet, except for an old man who limped up to the door asking to come in for a few minutes of warmth. While the man was resting, the cobbler noticed that the old fellow's shoes were worn through. Touched, the cobbler took a new pair from his shelves and saw to it that the stranger was wearing them as he went on his way.
Throughout the afternoon the cobbler waited, but his only visitor was an elderly woman. He had seen her struggling under a heavy load of firewood, and he invited her, too, into his shop to rest. Then he discovered that for two days she had had nothing to eat; he saw to it that she had a nourishing meal before she went on her way.
As night began to fall, the cobbler heard a child crying outside his door. The child was lost and afraid. The cobbler went out, soothed the youngster's tears and, with the little hand in his, took the child home.
When he returned, the cobbler was sad. He was convinced that while he had been away he had missed the visit of his Lord. Now he lived through the moments as he had imagined them: the knock, the latch lifted, the radiant face, the offered cup. He would have kissed the hands where the nails had been, washed the feet where the spikes had entered. Then the Lord would have sat and talked to him.
In his anguish, the cobbler cried out, "Why is it, Lord, that Your feet delay. Have you forgotten that this was the day?" Then, soft in the silence a voice he heard:

"Lift up your heart for I kept My word.
Three times I came to your friendly door;
Three times My shadow was on your floor.
I was the man with the bruised feet.
I was the woman you gave food to eat,
I was the child on the homeless street."
Everytime I hear this story I wonder how many times I have walked right by Jesus on my way to doing something I considered more important!
If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? James 2:16

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Five stars for Narnia....

Then her face lit up till, for a moment (but of course she didn’t know it), she looked almost as beautiful as that other Lucy in the picture, and she ran forward with a little cry of delight and with her arms stretched out. For what stood in the doorway was Aslan himself, The Lion, the highest of all High Kings. And he was solid and real and warm and he let her kiss him and bury herself in his shining mane. And from the low, earthquake-like sound that came from inside him, Lucy even dared to think that he was purring.
“Oh, Aslan,” said she, “it was kind of you to come.”

“I have been here all the time,” said he, “but you have just made me visible.”  From Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis

I went to see the latest in the Chronicles of Narnia series yesterday and I was not disappointed. If you want to be swept away from this world for awhile and enter into a world we all long for, where good always triumphs over evil in the end, then go see this latest adaptation of C.S. Lewis books. What I love about these stories as well as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series is that yes, there is struggle and hardship and sacrifice, and though the battle between good and evil rages within our own hearts, ultimately the choice is made for good, and good wins. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien had a Biblical world view and so this glorious backdrop of hope comes through in their writings. This is not the case of the Harry Potter series or more recently Avatar. While I enjoy H.P. and Avatar I always leave these movies with a letdown feeling. Not so with Narnia. C.S. Lewis knows that the ultimate victory as Christians is that our hope is in the Lord.

I may just go see it again........

Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." Revelation 5:5

Monday, December 13, 2010

All God's Special Needs Kids.........

We see mess......we want order, perfection....

She sees an opportunity for fun.....
She sees no problem with playing in dead moldering mulchy her P.J.s
To her, the lines between work and play are blurred and everything becomes a game. Maybe we can all take some lessons from Lauryn.....

I was thinking about my niece this morning in the wee hours while I was praying for her.  She is in a special needs class at school mostly because she talked very late, and showed a few signs that have been attributed to Autism. I thought, we really are all God's special needs kids aren't we?

We walk around and nobody knows what we may be carrying inside......Burdens we carry, scars suffered along the way, we look and act just the same as everyone else, but really, we should all be in a special needs class.

Trying to recover from monumental loss and pain and not knowing how

Hurting from a divorce, reeling with the pain of rejection

Bravely taking care of everyone while you are screaming for help

Thinking you have everything figured out

Piling up success and accomplishment because the child in you still wants your parents to notice

We could all use help, all of us have problems and "special needs." We put kids in special needs classes because they are not making normal progress, they have developmental differences, but the truth is sometimes we all feel like we are not making normal progress, we get stuck. We can't go forward or back and we feel stagnant. We try to recover from blows that life deals us and we need help to know how to get back into the flow of what we call normalcy.

We have a God who specialises in taking care of our "Special Needs." The ones we all have......I am thankful today for so many times that He has helped bind up my wounds and set me back on the path of recovery, or sent others to do His work! I know many today who have excelled in school and life, but are broken beyond repair because of a trauma they never expected. I pray they seek healing from the only One who can. "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners," Isaiah 61:1

Thankful today for the simple joys too......playing in leaves, decking the halls for Christmas, conversations by firelight, good books in a cosy corner, prayers said in the dark, playing on my old school playground, dry places in the rain, hearing an eight year old laugh, watching her love her "babies", being able to see colored leaves as little miracles, Christmas music, humor in every situation, wonderful friends, evening in the park.......#560-#574

holy experience

photos from my iphone

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On missing prayer time.....

"Oh Lord how I have missed this time with You. I was doing other things for awhile, important and necessary things, but I have missed this coming before Your throne of Grace....this time of morning quiet. I have had snatches here and there, but it's not the same.

I know that I can pray anywhere, at any time, but this place is special, is my own little hollow, a little carved out place we have made together. When we come together again, its like we were never apart; a bit like an seeing an old friend, but much better. I settle into Your rhythm of eternity and timelessness, and once again I feel small next to You, and the world gets smaller too.

I back away, realign myself to You.....Your Holiness, Your timeless Grace. I listen and hear You in the quiet. I listen and repeat what You hear day in, day out......"Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and is to come."

One Holy praise for each, Father, Son, Holy Spirit

I reflect once again on Your coming. What it meant then and what it still means today. I can only bow in humble adoration as a simple shepherd did years ago by lamplight in a stable.

"My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore." Psalm 131

Right after I wrote this prayer in my journal, I opened the Bible to the above passage......

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas in the Desert

Desert Botanical Gardens
Thought you might enjoy some Christmas decorations with a bit of a Southwestern flair......

Down here in the desert we have to be a bit creative when it comes to outdoor lighting.....

What we lack in "Christmas" weather, we make up for in spirit!

Stillman/McCormick Railroad Park, Scottsdale Arizona

Of course we also have the more "traditional" setting up North in Flagstaff if we dream of a white Christmas!

 Hope you are enjoying His blessings this Christmas Season......

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke 2:10

Photos from flicker, google and arizona travel

Friday, December 10, 2010

Where two or more are gathered......

"Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize) together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven. For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them." Matthew 18:19-20

What is Advent, but God coming near? That is the great miracle that we celebrate. God comes to us in human form, but at the same time, He comes to us as Creator, Everlasting Father, Eternal and Righteous Judge. In Jesus we find every attribute of God the Father, in the form of a defenseless infant.

In every area of our lives we cry out for God to come near. We need help. We start life with optimism and enthusiasm but as we try to navigate along life's twists and turns we sometimes lose hope. We wonder what happened. We don't understand and we ask why. Families become strangers living in the same house. We wonder where the old feelings went and we long for those times to come back. Our lives become scattered pieces, and we don't know how to put them back together. It seems everywhere we look we see shining examples of people with perfectly formed lives where all the pieces fit and it is discouraging. What it feels like is that God loves them more....But that is always Satan talking.

Maybe you feel like all is well in your life, great! Give Him thanks! And humbly realize that you need Him no less than when chaos reigns!

Always remember, He came because He loves you! He is the only One who can bring peace in the midst of chaos. A relationship with Christ is like standing in the center of a hurricane. While destruction and trouble whirl around us, we are safe in the calm, in the center with Him.With Christ we get that happy ending we always longed for, and no, it is not too good to be true! Advent has come, will continue to come until He comes for the last time.

The miracle of Christmas means that He is accessible, reachable, altogether approachable! Through prayer right now we draw Him close. We have hope that though circumstances in our lives may not be as we want them to be now, we believe Him when He says that one day He will set things right forever.....And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new " And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." Revelation 21:5

When Christ comes near to us we realize that this is finally possible and our hearts burst with joy unspeakable. This is everything we dreamed of. When Christ comes near, we begin to understand and believe in His promise at last. We have much to celebrate not only this time of year, but all year long.
Before I left home, at my folk's house in the quiet of the morning firelight we were alone, just the three of us. I grabbed both of their hands and said I wanted to pray for them. As I did so, I could not speak for a few moments. I thought of what they mean to me, have meant all their lives. I thought of all the sorrow they have been through, how strong they have always been for me, how they love voice quavered a prayer and it quavered throughout the prayer, and that's okay. Tears were shed, and I think Jesus shed one too. Together the four of us agreed, held fast by bonds of everlasting love.

Grab the hand of someone this day and thank them for being in your life, even if it makes them uncomfortable and they give you a strange look! Pray for each other and feel Him draw close. Give each other the gift of Advent today and feel eternity come near.

Photo by ForestWander Nature Photography.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Notes from a small town......

Downtown Lodi Arch
There is something reassuring about community, I am reminded of this every day and especially when I go back to my hometown. Like a small town newspaper column or letters from home we dream of places where we know the people we do business with. Places we can stop in and get a cup of coffee and they will say, "Don't worry about it, it's on the house." You may think these kinds of places are a thing of the past, but I assure you they are not.

In my hometown, things have changed most definitely, but some things have stayed the same......the train whistles blow through town almost every hour or more. I grew up with them and they make me feel nostalgic and comforted at the same time. In a farming community, trains are part of life......they never stop chugging their bounty from the fields and vineyards to places far away....

In local news,  the annual Christmas Parade of lights had 89 entries this year. When we took my niece to the park the day before the event I noticed that people had already marked out their territory with chairs and signs to get premo seats.

It was a cold but beautiful evening that night, the sunset was all pinks and violets and the Christmas lights in people's houses started to blink on. The downtown lamps came on as well at 5 o'clock, ushering in the night.They have been around since I was a kid, their white round bulbs like full moons, peeking through the trees, lining the streets.

Yes, some things are exactly the same.....

My Dad still writes checks to get gas, my Mom knows the checkers at the store personally and one of them will come around with a hug when she sees her in line. One of the local Deli's, The Butcher Shoppe is owned by dear friends and has hosted early morning Bible studies and employed many friends and neighbors. I stop in there everytime I go back home for their special seasoning, I have people in several states hooked on it.

My Mom still goes to the Post Office to mail letters and goes to the same bank she has gone to forever to get her bank statements. Of course she knows the tellers there too! She even took a stuffed Santa to her cleaners and they cleaned it for her, though they said in their broken english....."I never cleaned Santa before!" But they did it for her because she brings a lot of business and they appreciate it.

I went to a Memorial where friends gathered, some of whom have known each other 50 years or more. My folks can still see imprints of their grandparents in town. The houses they lived in, the location where the old blacksmith shop was that my grandfather owned, the house my Mom had her first Birthday party at when she was 12 years old, given to her by big sister Esther. She still sees some of those "girls", now in their eighties in town.

I drove down my Grandmother's street while I was there. Her old house is for sale now. I stopped and paused in front of it one night. I parked there, remembering....hearing all of our voices from the past. The screen door was open and it bothered me. I thought about going up and closing it, but then I thought that might be closing the door on a past that I wasn't ready to close....

I passed the High school where my folks went to high school and I did too......I noticed a family friend had put on the marquee, "Happy 80th Birthday Norman." I thought how cool it was that I knew these people personally. Had been to dinner at their house many times, and mornings at her table for coffee, held a baby shower there for my sister in lawm had fed their cat and dog while they were away. This is community. The blessing of knowing your neighbors.

It is coming back to my folk's house and seeing a homemade treat waiting on the front porch, made by their neighbor. It is borrowing things, and lending things knowing they will be returned....

There are still many places left in the world like this. It is not perfect or idyllic the way I have made it seem. The German families that once lived on the east side are no longer there, and you wouldn't want to venture over there after dark, for gangs have moved in during the past 30 years or so. But still, a community remains where people have grown close, protected and looked out for each other in spite of change.

I now live in a place where I know my neighbors here in Arizona too! Yes, it still does happen.

I like to think of the blogging community as an extension of this. We are here for each other. We share our hopes and dreams. We open our hearts to each other. We step across another kind of street, knock on other kinds of doors and say....."Come on in, we are glad you could join us!"

Jessie's grove winery cat
Images from

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Home from family visit......

I am home from traveling and visiting was wonderful but it is always good to come home. Look for regular posting starting tomorrow. Blessings and love to all of my blogging friends!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Patient in the waiting.....

James 5: Patience in Suffering......

Be patient then brothers and sisters, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged, The Judge is standing at the door! Verses 7-9

Funny to think of a little babe in a manger as judge, but He is. Our righteous judge.....sometimes it seems that so many are getting away with so much. When I watch the news I get discouraged and think, like the Israelites of old......"How long O Lord?" I don't know how He can sit one more minute and not come down and set things right. But I am glad He is patient, not willing any to perish. I am glad He is patient with me!

Short posts continue today, I am still home visiting and doing with family, yet a few moments at Panera are treasured. It is a good thing to be part of a community where I can sit and very likely see people I have not seen in many years....there is something reassuring about that....and very early this morning I was able to pray with my Dad, who was not sleeping. He is dealing with a bad shoulder, and many worries which are always magnified at night! I was able to say a prayer with him as he came to sit by the sofa bed where I was sleeping. He came in need of prayer and I was glad I was able to return the gift of his many prayers for me over the years.......He said he had a better outlook this morning. Thank you Lord!

Once again I thank and praise Him for coming to us in our deepest needs always.....

Lord Jesus, come Yourself and dwell with us, be human as we are, and overcome what overwhelms us. Come into the midst of my evil, come close to my unfaithfulness. Share my sin, which I cannot leave. Be My brother thou Holy God. Be my brother in the kingdom of evil and suffering and death, come with me in my death, come with me in my suffering, come with me as I struggle with evil. And make me holy and pure despite my sin and death. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Thank you Lord for gathering the fractured pieces of our lives and making us whole once again.....this is what Advent is all about. Amen

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent.....Come Lord Jesus

When once again Christmas comes and we hear the familiar carols and sing the Christmas hymns, something happens to us, and a special kind of warmth slowly encircles us. The hardest heart is softened. We recall our own childhood. We feel again how we then felt, especially if we were separated from a mother. A kind of homesickness comes over us for past times, distant places, and yes, a blessing longing for a world without violence or hardness of heart. But there is something more--a longing for the safe lodging of the everlasting Father. And that leads our thoughts to the curse of homelessness which hangs heavily over the world.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, December 2nd, 1928 Advent Sunday.

I thought it fitting to choose from these selections from "Christmas Sermons" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer since I don't have much time to post. I stumbled across this book stuck in Dad's overflowing bookshelf and thought, "What a neat little book!" Then I looked inside. Lo and behold it had my inscription on the front flap. "To Dad, Merry Christmas, 2005....Love, Lori" I had forgotten that it was from me! And now it has some of his notations and highlights. Those are always wonderful to find. I think of the time in the future when I will open it, and he won't be here anymore. It is a reality that I must face, sooner rather than later, since he is now 83. At that time, painful as it will be, he will be celebrating a true Christmas for all eternity, waiting for me there. I can imagine him making me a bed by the fire as he did when I was growing up, getting it ready as he did for my little niece just last night.

That is what Christmas is truly about......because of Christmas we have a future in Heaven! That is our reality if we know Christ. Because of that we can join the angels in saying:

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Luke 2:14

December 1st has always been a special time for me. It is somehow different than November 30th. A different feeling stirs in my soul, a place of quiet rests within, amidst all the bustle and flow of everything going on.....I always want to drag my foot to slow things down, make it last....pull the oar backwards to stop the flow of whitewater that threatens, waits around the bend.

It will be over all too soon......slow down and make it last. But after all, every day is Advent to us. What a blessing to have such an unspeakable Gift......"And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:14,15

Monday, November 29, 2010

A quiet knock.....

Every day, a quiet voice answers our cry , gently, persuasively, "I stand at the door and knock."

Should we tremble at these words, this voice? The Spirit that we have called for, the Spirit that saves the world, is already here, at the door, knocking, patiently waiting for us to open the door. He has been there a long time and he has not gone away. His is a very quiet voice and few hear it. The cries of the marketplace and of those who sell shoddy goods are all too loud. But the knocking goes on, despite the noise, we hear it at last. What shall we do? Who is it? Are we afraid or impatient? Perhaps we feel a little fear, lest someone undesirable is at the door, dangerous or with malignant intent. Should we open? In all this fuss, the royal visitor stands patiently, unrecognized, waiting. He knocks again, quite softly. Can you hear Him?

Detrich Bonhoeffer's Christmas Sermons, December 2nd 1928

"I stand at the door and knock." Revelation 3:20

For the first time this year, I got swept up in Black Friday mania. I didn't actually go out to a store, I shopped online. I don't really know what came over me. It swept over me like a fever. I felt myself carried along a swift tide and the waters went from calm and clear to white and churning. Part of it was because I had  a deadline. I knew I was going to head out of town and I had a list, you see......I wanted to make sure everything was done, checked off. All day I went back and forth, this site, that site, this item, that item......which was the right one, which was the better buy? Finally around 5:00 PM I made the final choice.


It wasn't a peaceful day, my peace went somewhere and I missed it. I went out to my prayer shed for just a moment that evening to say a prayer of thanks for the day, for God's mercy and His unending love and patience. Every day He knocks and waits for me........For us. I am so glad He does.

Psalm 86:15

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.Psalm 86:15

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I will be traveling today, driving one state over to see my family in California for a week. The road will look somewhat different than this, mostly desert until we get to the farmland of San Joaquin county......I will have a laptop and plan to spend some time in Panera Bread Company blogging and sipping coffee by the fire!

So, keep checking back in okay? Until then.....

The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace."'
So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I
shall bless them." Numbers 6:22-27

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to all.....

Psalm 100
A psalm of thanksgiving.
 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
 Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
 Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
go into his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him and praise his name.
 For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
I loved this photo because I have a Mom and Dad who send me leaves in the mail........A very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to all, from my prayer closet to yours......
image from photobucket

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Count it all joy......

God always answers prayer, sometimes the answer is silence......

Ever been in silence that seems so deep it almost has a volume all it's own? A snowfall comes to mind, or standing in the woods in the hush of morning, just before dawn. Ever been in the middle of some task, and God drops one of those quiet thoughts into your mind? It comes unbidden and settles softly in the space of whatever you happen to be doing. Like a gentle snowflake that lands on your palm or tongue.....we can either recieve it or brush it away. You know it, it is that still small voice of the Lord.

I got one of those yesterday. It started with a crumpled napkin. I saw it and got a flicker of a thought, lighter than a feather it came. "I should save that," I thought, as I collected it off the table......You see, when you have suffered a loss, a grief that is total and unexpected, you tend to think like that every now and then, even years later. It carves out a place, leaves a mark, changes you forever. It says, hang onto that because they might not come through the door ever again. Save that coffee cup because it was what they were using, and you may never see their face again. Not in this life anyway.....It says, keep that because she or he loved that, it was his, it was hers....A husband, a wife, a best friend, a parent, a child.

Loss carves a hole in you that you always seek to fill. But there is only One who can....

But here is what I realized yesterday, and not for the first time: I am thankful for what I have learned from my loss, because I cherish the people in my life more. I truly do know that it may be the last time I see them, this side of  Heaven anyway.......Grief teaches you to pay attention. To learn what makes the ones you love light up. Compliment them on big and small things......see what makes the life spring into their eyes and makes them walk a bit taller. Notice when they look down or troubled. Never hesitate to do these things, you will be so glad you did.

God can make something beautiful out of all our losses, whatever they may be, and once we have made it through we can be intruments of His comfort to others. In time we can rejoice. Hold fast to His hand and let him carry you into the daylight of His grace. I rejoice today because of all God has brought me through......It is Thanksgiving in the midst of everything! Or maybe in spite of everything.

I am filled with humble gratitude when I think of all the ways He has revealed Himself to me, I just can't help wanting to share it......."So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6,7
Photo of japanese maple leaf from birds and blooms dot com

Monday, November 22, 2010

God's Blueprint

Eagles in falling snow, h.d. wallpapers

Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents.
It was loaned to you by your children.
Kenyan Proverb

"If you placed all the pieces of a watch into a shoebox and shook it for ten minutes, do you believe it would shake into a functioning watch? Of course not. What if you shook it for a year? Would a functioning watch then come out of the box? Say you were able to shake it for five billion years; would you then have a functioning watch? There is no possible way for that to happen. And if it couldn't happen by chance to something relatively simple like a watch, it most certainly couldn't happen by chance to our magnificently complex universe." One Heartbeat Away, your journey into eternity by Mark Cahill

How did we get here?
What happens after we take that last breath?
What is the purpose of all this?

The Bible provides the answers and in his book, One Heartbeat Away, Mark Cahill lays it all out in a wonderfully systematic and logical way in light of what Scripture and our own universe actually tells us. Our Creator has left so many clues behind in nature itself; we have only to open our minds and hearts to see them. God has left us a blueprint to find Him in everything we see around us, and yet so many times we seek other explanations and alternatives that are grounded in theory and speculation, but not proof.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of this book.....

 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom
and spread its wings toward the south?
 Does the eagle soar at your command
and build its nest on high?
 It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night;
a rocky crag is its stronghold.
 From there it looks for food;
its eyes detect it from afar." GOD 
Job 39:26-29
Continuing the gratitude count today........snow flakes gathered on pine branches, suns rays slanting through pines, more rain in the desert, exhilaration of the trail and the view from the top, crunch of frozen leaves underfoot, nature moments that catch your breath, jumping fish in a still lake, seeing so many bald eagles in Alaska I didn't know where to aim the camera..... recognizing God's footprints in everything I see, knowing that same God wants to know me.....#549-559

holy experience

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The view from the top

The climber climbs for the joy of it, and because he believes the view from the top will be worth it. We climb too, knowing the Keeper of our steps holds our feet fast; though we slip He keeps us from falling headlong. Though the climb is strenuous and sometimes difficult He surprises us with joys unspeakable on the journey at every turn and infuses us with the hope of victory at the top where He waits...... 

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:24-27

There will be many people at malls in the coming weeks, and rushing too and fro on the freeways, working, eating, visiting, sleeping, and all the while there is a God who waits for them to look His way. He does not need us, but He wants us!

His heart aches for knowing that those who do know Him will not speak of Him often enough, though they know the wonderful truth, the wonderful story.......Lord, make Your Word sing in our hearts and make the melody so bright, so clear, so strong that we can no longer keep it in!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Propelled by the Spirit

"You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you." Romans 8:9-11

Yesterday I missed prayer time. Usually I start the day with a sentence prayer as I get up, and then I pray on the way to work during commute, and then sometimes I will say short prayers throughout the day, just talking to my Father about things, or at the very least, prayers of confession after I hurl bad thoughts at unsuspecting drivers who cut me off. But yesterday, I didn't really have a conscious prayer time.

I missed it.

I read a very touching poem that stayed with me all afternoon. You can read it here

Still in reflection after the poem, I walked down to our cafe here at work. My thoughts were on hungry children as I walked past bins of fruit that we get here free for the taking. I envisioned myself handing every last one to little outstretched hands. I saw the beans that collect the excess drips from the Starbucks coffee carafes, and thought of parents who would give anything for those beans to feed their families. I saw the squash that we use as ornaments on the counters. Then I went outside and fed our stray cat, one of several that our company has adopted because people carelessly dump them off in the parking lot, or move and leave them behind.....Even the cat food has more nutrition than what some kids get in a week. I was mulling it all over.....why do we have so much and they so little?

I got home. I felt the Spirit leading me out to my little prayer shed but I really wasn't in sync for it. I thought, "I usually don't pray now, this is not what I do, I am a morning prayer person. Evenings are for catching the news of the day, maybe some computer time, dinner.....but the feeling wouldn't go away. The Spirit said, go....

I went, I lit my 6 inch Christmas tree, (yes, already) and my lamp....I prayed, and I was blessed. I am so glad I did......I am glad I listened. My flesh was saying no, but the Spirit in me was saying, yes. The Spirit is always right.....thank you Lord, again.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18